By: Casey Pechan
Two strip clubs and two bars have already been shut down, but according to shopkeepers, Downtown Springfield has a ways to go when it comes to gaining foot traffic.
Main Street has come a long way from the seedy area it was considered to be only a few years ago. Strip clubs have been moved, bars have been shut down, second hand clothing stores have sprung up, and local artists have painted murals along several sections of downtown. However many store owners have expressed frustration when it comes to their location.
“We need better lighting on Main Street, and better parking,” owner of Trash-N-Treasures, Glenn Myers stressed.
Myers is not the only one who feels this way. Betty Gullickson, a store manager for Hearts of Hospice, the newest edition to downtown shopping, had similar complaints.
“It’s wonderful that downtown is being revitalized. So much has been done, but we could use better lighting, or even flower planters to spruce up Main Street,” she said.
Main Street has but a few lonely lights spread across its entirety. In the winter, when it becomes dark by dinner, it can be frustrating for shops to try and remain open for those extra dollars along an eerily shadowed street. And considering the fact that downtown had a reputation for drunks an degenerates before the city began making changes, consumers are often dissuaded from hanging around after dusk falls.
“The lighting is so dark and gloomy. When there is better lighting there is more positive energy around an area,” Momma’s Kitchen owner Marian Austin explained. “We need something to improve the looks of downtown, and have something people will want to come to, like a mall or mini-mart.”
Currently Downtown Springfield primarily houses antique shops, art centers, second hand stores, and the occasional restaurant. Things that don’t inspire constant foot traffic, but rather the occasional wandering of those who are looking for the right antique, or heading to their weekly painting or sewing class. While some downtown residents complain this caters to a rather homogenous group, others praise the variety and potential of the area.
“This area is growing, and I like the fact that there are so many diverse people here,” said Meyers.
With downtown being only a ten minute drive from University of Oregon, and nestled in the Willamette Valley which houses a variety of recreational activities, there is certainly potential for Main Street to attract a range of characters.
If storekeepers have their way, downtown could soon be warmly lit, lined with cheerfully colored flowered pots, with empty store fronts replaced with mini-marts and cafés.
But all of this depends on the budget Springfield has set aside for the continued improvement of downtown, and who and what plans to fill in those empty spaces.
For now, residents will simply have to stay tuned and make their voices heard at city counsel meetings.